If my nose isn’t crammed in a book, it usually can be found leading me towards something delicious. So receiving a copy of Mad Hungry Cravings and being told to go blog about a recipe was a dream come true.
There is no shortage of temptation in this book. But if we’re taking true cravings—the kind that cause your stomach to burst out in a hungry symphony in the middle of a quiet room—then only one dish can satisfy me: mac and cheese.
I have obsessively loved mac and cheese ever since I was a kid, to the point where I’m sure my roommate and I single-handedly supported the Kraft company throughout our college years. Making this is nonnegotiable. Failure to do so is sacrilege.
So you ready? You hungry? Let’s go create liquid gold!
Assemble your supplies and preheat the oven to 375º.
– 1 pound elbow macaroni
– 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
– 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
– 1 quart whole milk
– 12 ounces shredded cheese of choice! (Cheddar, Munster, Monterey Jack, etc)
– 1/4 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
– Pinch of cayenne pepper
– 1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs (for topping)
– 1 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (for topping)
– Franks red hot (for serving)
– Laptop (If you don’t cook while listening to Pandora you’re missing out my friend)
Heat a large pot of water on the stove and then head over to your grating station.
I decided to go with a sharp cheddar—gotta love a cheese that bites back—and Monterey Jack.
Once you’ve grated, either put the cheese away or resign yourself to the fact that you will eat it. It’s fine—follow your cravings. This is why you smartly bought more cheese than the recipe calls for.
Once your water is boiling, add pasta. After 6-7 minutes—you want it al dente—drain and let sit. Don’t rinse! Rinsing pasta makes it more difficult for sauce to stick to the noodles and you do not want that.
Melt four tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat. Once melted add in flour and whisk constantly until golden. In less than two minutes you’ll be in a butter-scented heaven.
Whisk in milk and bring to a boil. Leave boiling and whisk constantly for about five minutes—until thickened.
Get bored whisking constantly and take selfies for your blog post.
Remove from heat. Slowly stir in your cheese.
Listen to the comforting growl of your stomach as the cheese melts and convince yourself it’s a stupid idea to just pull out the spoon and eat cheese soup. (Do any of you love cheese as much as I do?)
Sprinkle in black pepper and cayenne pepper. (Two dashes if you like things on the spicier side—the cayenne truly adds something special to this dish, don’t skip it!) Stir.
Dump Carefully pour elbows into the sauce mixture and stir until fully coated.
Butter a large baking dish—around 13×9 is fine.
Pour in mac and cheese.
Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a medium saucepan. Add 1 1/2 cups of panko bread crumbs. Stir.
Sprinkle bread crumb mixture over the mac and cheese. Use as much as you want. I sensed I was using too much and kept going. Learn from my mistakes.
Give in and take a bite. Die a little inside then put that delicious masterpiece in the oven.
Set the timer for 18-20 minutes. From here the choice is yours of what to do next. I chose waiting impatiently, eating more cheese, and ignoring the growing pile of dishes.
Pull it out of the oven when golden brown.
Add Frank’s RedHot.
Get yourself a gorgeous fork-full and enjoy your life.
Serves 6 (or 1…judgment-free zone here)
This is only one of the many recipes I’ve made from this book and honestly nothing has come out badly. The directions are simple and easy to follow. The food comes out tasting fantastic and you will not be disappointed. As the great Michael Scott once said, “You know what? If I were allergic to dairy, I think I’d kill myself. Cause this is way, way too good.”
Credit for recipe: Lucinda Scala Quinn, Mad Hungry Cravings
Credit for legend-dairy joke: Barney Stinson, How I Met Your Mother
This article originally appeared on Zola Books.